Updated: Feb 2
Directed by: #AnnarieBoor
Written by: #AnnarieBoor
An actress agrees to take part in a high profile interview, but all is not what it seems, and things take a sinister turn when a bloodied carving knife is revealed moments into the proceedings in this enigmatic drama.
Icon of Betrayal (2021), directed and written by Annarie Boor, is the third feature length collaboration with producer, editor and cinematographer Simon Boor, as part of their Mentor Through Film initiative with Tapping Frog Productions in London. Their last project, A Matter of Causality (2020), garnered critical acclaim and accolades for Best Ensemble Cast and also starred the leading actress of this film, Isabel Nesti, who plays the titular character of Reid Donovan, the eccentric actress being interviewed.
This slow burn mystery allows the plot time to develop intrigue and suspension with deliberately measured camerawork and static shots. The film employs iconography to associate particular connotations with characters, with the colour red instantly becoming associated with Reid through her bright lipstick, sense of dress and the red roses that accompany her wherever she goes. Although the movie mostly takes place in one room, there is an artistic, poetic quality to the storytelling with flashbacks and intertitle cards inserted throughout with quotes from Donovan, giving us more insight into her compelling character. It is clear that every scene was carefully coordinated with the actors to create an almost theatrical, visceral viewing experience which instantly hooks from the stunning opening shot of Reid surrounded in darkness holding the butcher knife, the blade gleaming in the light to create a chilling introduction into the proceedings.
The true highlight of this film is Isabel Nesti’s captivating performance as Reid Donovan, who also starred in A Matter of Causality where she won an award for Best Acting Ensemble. From the first shot to the closing scene, her unpredictable nature and charismatic presence as she consistently directly addresses the audience, are instantly gripping. Her ability to enchant everyone is only beaten by the versatility she demonstrates as an actress, where she goes from a manipulative commander of the scene to a fearful, desperate performer who worries she is losing the limelight and her manager’s attention. Nesti flawlessly transfers between the two, with her flamboyant energy and emotional outburst making for a stunning performance. Florence Harvey, who plays Reid’s co-star Penelope, is a newcomer to film with one other acting credit, yet her restrained ferocity and sincerity flourished and Ed Keates as Quinten, Reid’s manager, also made a strong impression with his subtle, emotionally restrained performance.
The film offers an engaging meta commentary on the star image in Hollywood and cinema overall, reflecting on the complications and desperate lengths celebrities can often go to ensure their star power remains in the audience eye. This theme is woven throughout the narrative with the character of Reid, as the mystery begins to unravel, and we find out what she is truly capable of to keep her position, making for insightful and thought-provoking viewing.
Icon of Betrayal is a strong mystery, melodrama film with plenty of twists and turns to keep you entertained; combined with a stellar performance from its lead and an engrossing stylistic vision, this is an admirable achievement for everyone involved.
Icon of Betrayal (2021) Film Trailer: